Columbia Basin Badger Club: Citizens United – Free Speech or Democracy for Sale? – March 18, 2021

Virtual online event
From 12 pm. – 1:15 p.m.
Cost: $5 for nonmembers, while club members can join for free – must register online

Floodgates of money have poured into political campaigns since the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

In that 5-4 ruling dominated by conservative judges, the court found the 2002 McCain-Feingold bill’s restriction of political spending by unions, corporations and other “associations” violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The ruling overturned long-standing precedents and rationales aimed at limiting the corrupting influence of corporate money.

The result of that ruling, as well as subsequent rulings based on Citizens United, has been mind-boggling amounts of money being channeled into political campaigns by corporations and wealthy donors. Much of that money is unlimited “dark money” contributed through Super PACs, which are not required to reveal donors.

Led by this dark money, the two 2020 U.S. Senate races that determined control of the Senate attracted about $450 million in campaign spending from both sides. Total spending in 2020 federal campaigns was nearly $14 billion – almost double 2016 spending – with $6.6 billion spent in the presidential race and $7 billion in congressional races.

Critics of the Citizens United ruling say it is judicial overreach that allows a handful of individuals and corporations to wield an undue and corrupting influence on political campaigns, state initiatives, and the legislative agendas at all levels of government – that the ruling in effect leaves ordinary citizens out of the picture.

The Columbia Basin Badger Club’s online forum “Citizens United: Free Speech or Democracy for Sale?” at noon on March 18 will examine how the Supreme Court arrived at this decision, and whether the ruling should be overturned by a constitutional amendment.

Our speakers are:
– Timothy Kuhner is a law professor currently at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He teaches classes on comparative constitutional law, anti-corruption law, and campaign finance.

– Cassidy Faber is the former Legislative Director of Wolf PAC Washington State. She lives in Seattle and volunteers as a political organizer around the state.

– State Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, will argue in favor of the ruling. He has served in the Washington Legislature for 23 years, the first 12 in House.
Event info & registration:

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